Firedog's Demise Creates SOHO OpportunityBy Charlene O'Hanlon | Posted 2009-01-20 Email Print
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Circuit City's liquidation means an end to its lackluster computer repair service. It also means an opportunity for local solution providers to grab some customers before the Geek Squad gets them.
That whimpering sound you hear is Circuit City's Firedog running away with its tail between its legs.
Late the week of Jan. 12, Circuit City announced it had declared bankruptcy and was closing all of its stores, liquidating its assets and riding off into the great unknown. Not only was it taking down its retail operations, it also was pulling the plug on Firedog, its computer and home theater installation and repair services.
That's good news for solution providers that service the SOHO (small office/home office) market and have seen their customers migrate to Circuit City and Best Buy for their computer repairs.
"Their demise probably will help us out," says Michael Vance, computer technician at Naples Computers, in Naples, Fla. Naples Computers has a chart on its Web site that compares its prices with those of Firedog and Geek Squad. "Usually the demise of any computer competition in this area is good for us."
Circuit City rolled out Firedog in 2006 to compete with Best Buy's Geek Squad, which Best Buy purchased in 2002 to provide in-house and on-site computer repair and installation. Firedog, meanwhile, was a new name for Circuit City Services, its in-house repair facility, which, according to numerous anecdotal accounts (simply type in Firedog service in Google and witness for yourself), didn't have the computer chops necessary to compete.
"When I was living in Orlando, I applied for a computer technician job at Firedog. During the interview I asked the manager some basic networking questions that he didn't know the answer to. And these were basic questions," Vance says.
Vance notes that it hasn't been all bad having both Firedog and Geek Squad in Naples Computers' back yard. "They have sent customers over to us when they can't fix their computer … We had heard some things about Firedog, that they charged so much and never got anything done," Vance says. "It doesn't surprise me that they're done."